Tuesday, 21 November 2017
E3: Slovakia Part 1
Slovakia offered some real landscape highlights! It started already in the tiny mountain range of Súľovské vrchy or Sulower Berge in German where one view point came after the other - unfortunately linked by some steep trail!
Descending some more very steep trail I arrived in Rajece Teplice, a posh and tacky spa town. The spa complex is called Aphrodite and seems to be a Slovak version of Las Vegas! I arrived just before the local supermarket closed and sat down at the town square watching tourists who seemed to come from all over the world - even including some Muslim women with head scarves - a rare sight in this part of the world. I would have liked to stay one night and relax in the thermal pools but now in high season everything was booked solid - and would have been expensive anyways.
Next day brought some of the most spectacular hiking of the entire trip: I was traversing the Mala Fatra, a National Park. The entire day I was walking on top of the crest, mostly even on knife-edge - although the trail was really easy due to the amount of tourists! In the evening I had to rush to get out of the National Park for wild camping but other hikers did not seem to bother: Even briefly before sunset a bunch of Slovak hikers entered the park and it was apparent they were about to free camp, too!
It took me a while to realise what was going on. This was a gang of blueberry pickers (legal or illegal) and they had fired a rocket to scare away any wild animals! I quickly packed up and had a very early start this morning. I had just walked a couple of hundred metres when the next surprise was waiting for me: an adder was lying right in the middle of the trail sunning itself. I quickly passed. My quick pace was stopped pretty soon by this mud desaster on the trail. Farmers were cutting down trees and their vehicles had turned the trail into a mud bath. They had to work with horses to get the downed trees out of the forest because the ground was destroyed so much.